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Arkansas Beats Mississippi State, 61-45

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas 61 Mississippi State 45

What did we just watch?

Arkansas won the game by 16, but that was one of the strangest games in recent memory.

For the first 12 minutes, Arkansas had scored 8 points. MSU’s defense was swarming. Offensive sets were hard to get into, plenty of turnovers, and just ugly basketball.

MSU didn’t look much better, but they did build a lead of 18-5.

Then things changed. The pace picked up and Arkansas took advantage. The whole game flipped. MSU was now turning it over a record pace and the Hogs led by 6 at halftime.

The 2nd half had ups and downs, but the one constant was more turnovers by Mississippi State. The Bulldogs finished with 26 turnovers total. Arkansas scored 25 points off of the mishaps.

One of my keys to the game was Connor Vanover stretching the floor. He did an outstanding job tonight! The big man had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. He filled up the stat sheet!

Another key to the game was containing Iverson Molinar and DJ Stewart. The two combined for 14 points on 5 of 14 shooting.

Justin Smith had a nice game as well with 10 points on 5-8 with 10 rebounds. Devo Davis got the start and was productive with 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists.

While you will always take a 16-point win over defensive team like MSU, but the slow starts are concerning. The continued rise in turnovers is concerning. The Hogs had 17 tonight.

They cannot afford to make a habit of this. Better competition will build a lead and not look back. We saw that against Alabama and LSU.

This team will likely continue to ride the bubble. I can’t say I am surprised. I picked a 19-8 record at the beginning of the season and I think we could still be headed there. Time will tell.

Arkansas is scheduled to play Texas A&M at home on Saturday, but the Aggies had to postpone their game against Vanderbilt on Wednesday due to COVID-19 issues. I would be surprised if the game happened.

Thanks for reading! For all things Arkansas basketball, give me a follow on Twitter @BenBrandonHoops